Positive reinforcement at work occurs when a person is rewarded to encourage a behavior. In the workplace, positive reinforcement can occur in the form of praise, awards and recognition, bonuses and promotions. The most common, simplest form of positive reinforcement is commending someone for a job well done. Managers may dole out praise for completing a project in a timely manner, handling customers well, rising to the occasion when challenges come up, successfully leading a team on a project or performing exceptionally well. Advantages
Positive reinforcement can improve employees' performance, writes Aubrey C. Daniels on Entrepreneur.com. Employees can tolerate much more stress in the workplace and perform for longer periods if they are guided by positive reinforcement, Daniels states. Positive reinforcement builds confidence and helps employees have a more pleasurable experience at work while avoiding the negative side effects associated with punishment or negative reinforcement, such as frustration, anger, anxiety and depression. Considerations
Positive reinforcement is designed to increase desirable behaviors, so in the workplace, positive reinforcement encourages better performances, increased productivity and positive project results. Positive reinforcement can produce lasting, positive change in the workplace, states Central Michigan University professor Heather Kchodl. Positive reinforcement must be consistent and frequent and occur immediately after the desired behavior for the best results, Kchodl states. Disadvantages
Positive reinforcement is not always good, and negative reinforcement is not always bad, according to West Virginia State University professor Michael Perone. Perone suggests that the line between positive or negative reinforcement is not always clear, which makes measuring the results difficult. Too much positive reinforcement can lead to fatigue or praise overload, Perone states, which can diminish the results. Positive enforcement that is administered haphazardly can also cause problems, Perone states, as workers receive the same signals no matter what they do, which reduces the power of the signals. Characteristics of Positive Reinforcement
A common type of positive reinforcement is a verbal or written commendation. For example, "John I appreciate the extra work you put it on this project. Thank you for the extra time and effort you put in on this project. If it weren't for your extra effort this project would not have succeeded. Monetary compensation is often used as a reinforcement vehicle. It is regularly used to motivate salespeople through the use of a sales compensation plan. Compensation plans are structured as an incentive to create more sales. Social recognition is often used as a reinforcement technique in the workplace. It often involves recognizing an employee in front of coworkers. One common social recognition technique is to give an employee a reward certificate as tangible acknowledgment of a job well done. For example, some employers pick and recognize an employee of the month. Measurement
The result of positive reinforcement must be easy to measure. To effectively measure positive reinforcement objectives should be set for the activity to be reinforced. In sales, one common objective is sales volume. Another objective could be amount of profit before overhead a salesperson provides from his accounts. Effectiveness
To use positive reinforcement carefully define what behavior you wish to reinforce and why. Choose the method for providing the reinforcement. The method selected should be based on the person who is to be reinforced. Some people are only motivated by monetary reinforcement while others will respond more effectively to verbal praise. After providing positive reinforcement observe the results. If the method chosen does not work, change...